A Bible Reading: Isaiah 61. 1 - 3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.
A Thought We have spent the last week on holiday in Keswick in the Lake District. During this time, we have found walking by Lake Derwentwater particularly therapeutic and restorative. One of the things that caught our eye was the number of very large, well-established, healthy oak trees.
The oak trees were numerous, solid and stout but also tall, with wide spreading branches and very lush, dark green leaves. Even their botanical name, quercus robus, somehow sounds solid and dependable. As we walked, we pondered how such large established trees could grow from such tiny acorns. ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ is a well-known English proverb, which appears in the work of Chaucer and various other famous writers. This is a fact brought to reality over and over again in every oak tree, albeit over many years of steady growth.
Isaiah 61 is well-known as Jesus’ self-proclaimed manifesto for his mission task, read aloud in the synagogue in Luke 4. However, Luke misses off the final verses which summarise the outworking of Jesus’ ministry. Those to whom Jesus ministers will become ‘oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord’s splendour’. When we have received the Good News or had our broken hearts bound up, when mourning and despair have been transformed into thankfulness and joy, something of faith is planted within us. That seed of faith then begins to grow. The image of little acorns is in keeping with Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed, where again a substantial tree can grow from the smallest of seeds.
These scriptures are both pictures of faith. And what encouragement! No matter how small or fragile in the beginning, with God this little acorn of faith has the potential to grow into a mighty oak, solid and dependable and able to withstand even in the greatest storms of life. Our testimony to God’s saving power then becomes a display of his splendour, a witness to future generations that the power of the Holy Spirit is still at work in the world and God’s promises are wholly trustworthy.
A Prayer Sovereign Lord, may I be an oak of righteousness planted by you to display your splendour and bring glory to your name. Amen.